Getting hooked – A six year old barefoot, shirtless, redneck, Floridian growing up just north of Tampa, I remember getting up in the dark at 5 am to watch the Bill Dance fishing show. After the show my buddy and I would meet down at the lake with our fishing poles. We would mimic Bill Dance, “When I’m out trying to match my whits with the big one, I chew Levi Garrett; no sticks or stems!” We’d also copy Earl Campbell’s “Skoal Brutha!” commercials. At nine years old my uncle in Kentucky gave me some of his Redman chew and he and my cousins laughed, thinking I would get sick. Little did they know I was enjoying the familiar buzz. What a little dumbass.
By my freshman year in high school I had progressed to almost daily dipping of Skoal. Getting pretty expensive as cans were over 30 cents and going up all the time. Dipped while fishing or hunting. Dipped driving to and from school. Dipped after football practice. Dipped on the bus going to track meets. Got permission slips from my wrestling coach to spit in class and lose weight for my next match. Made little paper cups and dipped in class. Those didn’t work so well. By my senior year I was doing over half a can a day.
Switched to Copenhagen in college as that’s what my roommate dipped. Pulling all-nighters were a regular event while we worked on our Petroleum Engineering degrees. Not unusual to dip over two cans in a day. Shortly after graduation I realized I was a major addict. From here on out I would be a total slave to the nicotine goddess. My entire life was about dip, making sure it didn’t run out, planning for the next one. What a big dumbass.
“Trying” to quit – after about four years of marriage we had our first child on the way. Somehow I was suckered into promising my wife that I would quit chewing before we had kids.
True to my word I decided to quit “for her”. I was a giant asshole during my attempt. After all, it was her fault I had to quit and she was making me do it. I never really quit because I never really committed to it. I knew I would dip again. How could anyone expect poor me to not dip while staying up sometimes for 48 hours straight fighting problems on drilling rigs with all those roughnecks dipping around me? I pitied myself into dipping again. Poor me, I am just too weak. Life is just too hard. Too much stress. I am uniquely addicted. I need dip. Just one more for memory’s sake. So strange to look back and see how I rationalized the need to return to the poison. Not sure how long the “attempt” really lasted but I think my supposed “quit” was for about 12 months. I left the door wide open to cave before I even started to quit. All I really did was stop for a little bit. That was 20 years ago.
Thought my wife would divorce me when she found out I was dipping again. She probably would’ve if we hadn’t just had this beautiful baby girl. Instead of divorce, she made me promise to never, ever dip around the family. Don’t know why she accepted that promise; after all I broke the one about quitting.
Life as a Ninja – After my daughter came my son, and then another daughter. Life was always stressful. An oilfield life is like a military life, moving all the time. Colorado, Left coast, Gulf Coast, Indonesia, Canada, Montana. Work was 24/7 because rigs never sleep. At home I would strategically place cans where no one could find them so I could sneak a dip. I learned to pack it down tight on the side so you couldn’t tell I was dipping (unless you’re a dipper…) I would hide cans in my underwear so they wouldn’t show. (You didn’t want to bum a dip from me!) I would find reasons to be by myself outside so I could dip. I progressed into upper management at work and most people just thought I was addicted to Coke Cola cans. Who would think an executive with a public oil & gas company would be stupid enough to dip? While traveling I would buy a coffee to dump most of it out and spit in the cup. Work or home, my life revolved around that next dip. Two of my kids were in college and one was in high school when I finally quit. My son was the only one of them that had a clue I ever dipped, and even he didn’t know how addicted I am. All of my kids hate tobacco with the same passion as their hypocritical father. Yes, you can call me the Guru of Ninja Dippers, or just Master of deceitful lying assholes. I can’t believe I spent two decades of my life lying to my family and hiding dip from them. What a major league dumbass!
I’ll quit when I die – I was positive I could not quit because I did not have enough willpower (i.e, no balls). I always thought I wanted to quit, after all, who wants to waste money, be a slave, have headaches and sore throat, bad breath, etc.? I had given into the fact that I would only be able to quit when I got cancer, but if it was terminal I wouldn’t bother quitting. Why isn’t there a pill or something that makes quitting easy? Isn’t there a magical way of making the addiction go away? I knew I could not quit because I really did not want to quit. I needed it. I enjoyed it too much. I was willing to risk my life because there was a chance I would never get cancer. Heck, people who don’t dip get cancer all the time anyway. There was a chance my arteries wouldn’t constrict and give me a heart attack. Fuck it, why quit when I would probably be lucky and live until 100 years old anyway. Why go through all that suffering for nothing? I think I remember a story about someone who was 100 years old and chewed all their life? Yes, that would be me, “Lucky Dumbass!”
Or maybe I’ll quit right now! – At 1 pm on August 31, 2011, my buddy, also an officer with my company, called to let me know he has stomach cancer. He dipped for about 25 years. He swallowed. He is younger than me. I spit out my last dip while talking to him on the phone. I threw out four unopened cans. You don’t know how tough that is to do for this cheap-ass engineer. This was real. This was cancer. This was death. This should be me. Holy frickin crap, my buddy has stomach cancer! It gets worse. You think that some people beat cancer, right? Well I researched stomach cancer and discovered that the survival statistics are poor. Really poor. Stomach cancer doesn’t typically show itself until it is too late. Stage 4 is usually when it is found and you have less than a 5% chance of living five years. I finally grew a pair of balls. Scared ‘em right into the purse. In the blink of an eye I went from nearly four decades of dipping to absolutely quit. No plan. No warning. No bullshit rip-off nicotine replacement therapy. Hell, I had no idea I would ever quit. But out of nowhere I decided that dipping was no longer an option in my life. I was Not Dead Yet! And I didn’t want to die. I was quit. Not trying to quit. Not attempting to quit. Just frickin quit. And it was easy. Simple and easy, because I truly just decided to permanently ban that nasty shit from ever entering my body again. I did not care how much it hurt. I did not care if I suffered every second of every day for the rest of my life. I was done with dipping for good. Being quit was the number one priority in my life. Why the heck didn’t I do this 20 years ago? Oh well, Dumbass No More!
Ninja Quitter – I decided to NOT tell my wife I was quitting, at least not for a few days. First, I didn’t want to tell her about our friend’s stomach cancer without telling her I had already quit. Second, if she knew I was quitting I might use it as an excuse to rage on her during the first few days of suck. It was not her fault I was a dumbass. Anyway, I knew my quit was for real because I was absolutely committed and I was not afraid of the pending pain. I was finally more afraid of getting cancer than I was of quitting, at least that was my excuse to finally end my life of slavery. It was more like, “bring it on!” I slammed the caving door shut. I am scared shitless. I am no longer bullet proof. I will get cancer.
While Googleing stomach cancer I stumbled on the KTC site. I was on day three and deep into the fog. I could relate to so much on the site that I decided I should give it a try. Those first few days are really emotional and very long. Time was standing still. On KTC I read post after post. I was suffering but the stories were distracting my pain. I found myself busting up laughing several times. What a bunch of hilarious bastards. Might as well hang around for a while and get some more laughs. Might as well suffer as a group. Somehow makes it easier. I guess misery does love company. Some dude named “Gump” sent me a couple of messages that day. I can’t explain why, but those two brief notes meant so much to me while I was an emotional basket case. Thanks Gump!
I read many posts that taught me a lot about my quit. Words of wisdom. Similar experiences. Things that really hit home. One post that struck a chord was Scowick’s HOF speech, I am not a unique and special butterfly. Thinking I was uniquely addicted and having self-pity were two reasons why my quit 20 years ago turned into just a brief stoppage. Understanding this has added incredible strength to my quit. Thanks Scott! I also now understand that I must forgive myself for being such a dumbass for so long. I cannot change the past but I sure the heck can control the future.
It felt like I was traveling down a tunnel that 3rd day driving home from work. My peripheral vision was all screwed up. My mouth was sore from sunflower seeds. My jaw was sore from chewing gum. I could not concentrate. I kept telling myself to push on the brake pedal if I saw red lights ahead. Then I would scream “I hate you Nic Bitch!!” at the top of my lungs. I bet more than one driver on the road that day thought I was a frickin lunatic.
On day four I went to my youngest daughter’s high school soccer game. While standing with my wife on the sideline a couple of college kids came up with cigarettes in hand. Everyone knows you aren’t supposed to use tobacco at school events (even though I was sneaking dips at them for almost 2 decades.) I was pissed. Really pissed. Told my wife I was going to beat the living shit out of those two dicks. She looked at me kind of funny and calmly told me to please don’t do that. She didn’t know I was quit and having major Nic withdrawals. I just shut up and chewed some more seeds. Can’t blame those two retards for my suffering, right?
After a week the true sense of freedom started to sink in. Still a little foggy, but regaining control of my emotions. A bit of a roller coaster. It was my birthday and I decided my present to myself was telling my wife I had been quit for a week. Man she was happy, and extremely surprised. “But you didn’t act like an asshole!” Then I reminded her about the two idiots smoking at the soccer game and it all started making sense to her. I was as good of a Ninja Quitter as I was a Ninja Dipper.
Forever an addict, quitting everyday – I had my first dip dream on day 28. Seemed like everyone else was having them sooner than me. What was most disturbing about the dream – I was contemplating how, or if, I would tell my quit buddies on KTC that I screwed up and caved. I woke up totally disgusted with myself for even considering not telling anyone. Luckily it was just a dream. I am not capable of caving because I have eliminated the option of dipping from my life. Believe it. Preach it. Live it. Commit to it every day.
The first hundred days were very interesting. Many good days and some bad days. Always trending better. Almost 25 years of marriage and I can’t remember our relationship being this good. I guess when I’m not trying to be by myself with a dip all the time I can actually enjoy the company of my wife. Every day I wake up excited that I am still quit, but my wife doesn’t seem to care anymore. I guess I had Ninja’d so well that she really doesn’t notice the change. That’s okay, I quit for me. I don’t need Nic to concentrate. Matter-of-fact, I concentrate better without her. I lose my concentration when she whispers in my ear that I need a dip. I don’t need Nic to handle stressful situations. Matter-of-fact, Nic caused or amplified those stressful situations. I have thought my entire life that I am ADD. But now I am certain it was just Nic controlling my life. Life really is infinitely better without Nic, though she still tries telling me otherwise. What a cunt. I’ve read several times that quitting is simple, NOT easy. I strongly disagree. It is very simple AND easy. It can be tortuous and painful, but if you have committed to yourself to endure all the pain in the world before ever dipping again, quitting is easy. Welcome the misery with open arms. What do you have to lose? Your life? Well with dip you’ve lost that anyway so you might as well quit and die a free man. I figure I still have over 13,500 days of quit left to get back to even. Of course I’m kidding because there is no undoing the addiction and I will always be an addict, but at least I am now a free addict. With more money in my wallet. And good breath. No sores in my mouth. In control of my life. And hopefully no cancer.
As for my buddy with cancer, the treatment is horrendous. Two surgeries in two weeks. Chemo. The 2nd treatment sent him into cardiac arrest but he pulled through. Radiation is next, maybe, if he still has a chance for survival. More exploratory work. Did I mention the feeding tube? Looks like he lost about 40 lbs in 3 weeks. He hired a financial analyst to help plan the transfer of his estate. He’s made his own funeral arrangements. He is only 44 years old. His wife and kids get to watch him suffer.Tobacco, you are a cold-blooded murderer.
If I have one word of advice for those of you still contemplating quitting it is, “Spit it out right now!” Okay, 5 words. The point is, if you think about quitting then you open the door for the Nic Bitch to sneak in and talk you out of it. Just quit and be done with it. I know you can do it because I did it and we are one in the same – Nicotine Addicts. Once you accept the fact that you can never put nicotine in your body again, being quit becomes a fact of life and there is no other outcome.
Thanks to all of you who helped ease the pain of quitting. I apologize to anyone who I offended in my bouts of rage and childish assholishness over the last 100 days.
-NDY, 38 years a slave and 100+ days a free man